Denver Nuggets

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 07:14

History of Denver Nuggets

Information about the NBA team Denver Nuggets.


The Denver Nuggets are one of the four ABA teams that joined the NBA after their league’s folding in the 1975-1976 season. The original team was called the Rockets, with a lineup of Byron Beck and Larry Jones. They were later replaced by Ralph Simpson and Spencer Haywood. However, Haywood would later leave the Rockets to go to the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics. In 1974, the Denver Rockets were already planning to move to the NBA. Since the name “Rockets” was already being used by Houston, Denver decided to get a new nickname. They then established themselves as the Denver Nuggets.

In the final years of the ABA, the Denver Nuggets already formed the team of David Thompson, Marvin Webster, Dan Issel, and Bobby Jones. Their coach back then was Larry Brown. When the ABA folded after the 1975-1976 season, the Denver Nuggets were absorbed into the NBA together with the San Antonio Spurs, the New York Nets, and the Indiana Pacers. Before the ABA folded, the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers were already lobbying to get into the NBA. However, due to a court order, their request was denied. Luckily, they were still taken into the NBA after the folding of the ABA.

Making an impact in the NBA

The Denver Nuggets were a strong team in their first two years in the NBA. They won two consecutive division titles during that span. However, they were not as successful in the playoffs. In 1981, the Denver Nuggets hired Doug Moe as their head coach. With his “motion offense”, Moe gave a scoring punch to the Denver Nuggets. His team had two strong scorers in Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe. Both players averaged more than 25 points per game. The scoring prowess of the Denver Nuggets led to a high-scoring 186-184 triple overtime game against the Detroit Pistons in 1983.

Before the start of the 1984-1985 season, the Denver Nuggets traded Vandeweghe to the Portland Trail Blazers for Fat Lever, Calvin Natt, and Wayne Cooper. The Denver Nuggets were able to reach the 1985 Western Conference Finals but they were stopped short from reaching the championship match by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Denver Nuggets played strong until the end of the 1980s. By 1990, Doug Moe left the team and was replaced by Paul Westhead. He was more offensive-minded than Moe but this affected the team’s defensive technique. Thus, the team had the worst league record from 1990 to 1992.

Man-mountain Mutombo

In the 1991 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets selected Dikembe Mutombo from Georgetown University. In his rookie year, Mutombo shined on defense. He even placed second in the Rookie of the Year voting, just behind Larry Johnson of the Charlotte Hornets. Hoping to improve on coaching, the Denver Nuggets removed Westhead from his post and hired former player Dan Issel. The team also had two lottery picks in the 1992 NBA Draft which they used on LaPhonso Ellis and Bryant Stith. The team improved with the new core roster although they still missed the playoffs that year.

By the 1993-1994 season, the Denver Nuggets have already changed their official team colors to dark blue and gold. The team would also reach the playoffs that year behind Mutombo’s stellar play. However, they were the 8th seed in a tight Western Conference playoffs. They would face the Seattle Supersonics in the first round. Clearly the underdogs, the Denver Nuggets were able to win against their opponents in 5 games. They were the first 8th seed in NBA history to knock off a 1st seed. Although they lost to the Utah Jazz in the following round, the Denver Nuggets proved that they have what it takes to go for gold.

The Denver Nuggets tried to become better the following season as they acquired Dale Ellis from Seattle and drafted Jalen Rose from the University of Michigan. However, the team did not improve much and the Denver Nuggets got the 8th seed once again. This time, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. In the next season, the Denver Nuggets received Antonio McDyess from the Los Angeles Clippers. He was a good player for the team but he was not enough to carry the scoring load. Eventually, Dikembe Mutombo left the Denver Nuggets, thus making McDyess the key player in the team’s rotation.

The arrival of Carmelo Anthony

Even with McDyess in the lineup, the Denver Nuggets were always at the bottom of the standings. In 1997-1998, the team only had 11 wins, almost setting the mark for fewest wins in one season. They also had a losing streak of 23 games. This trend continued until they got to the 2003 NBA Draft. With the third pick, they chose Carmelo Anthony from Syracuse University. Anthony’s arrival signified a change in the Denver Nuggets franchise. The management surrounded Anthony with good talent including Andre Miller, Nene Hilario, Earl Boykins, Jon Barry, and Marcus Camby. In his rookie year, Anthony carried the Denver Nuggets to their return to the playoffs.

Although the Denver Nuggets lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, the team discovered their flaws. Thus, they made important coaching changes by hiring George Karl during the 2004-2005 season. The team got back into the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Yet, they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. The next season, the Denver Nuggets won the Northwest Division title. They moved to the playoffs as the 6th seed. However, they were beaten in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers. The team was hoping to change its luck the following years.

A spark of hope came to the Denver Nuggets during the 2006-2007 season when they traded with the Philadelphia 76ers to get Allen Iverson. With two scoring threats in Anthony and Iverson, the Denver Nuggets were considered to be a lock in the top spot in the Western Conference playoffs bracket. However, the team suffered from chemistry problems and they fell to the 6th seed. Their first opponents would be the San Antonio Spurs, which eliminated them 4-1. During the 2007-2008 season, the Denver Nuggets were in a tight Western Conference. Their 50 wins only earned them the 8th spot in the playoffs.

In their first round match-up, the Denver Nuggets faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was expected to be a high-scoring showdown as Anthony and Iverson faced off against Kobe Bryant and the newly-acquired Pau Gasol. Even though the Denver Nuggets posted a 50-win season, they were swept by the Lakers in stunning fashion. The Denver Nuggets knew that they need to tweak their roster a little bit more. Thus, by the end of the season, the team traded Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers to free up salary space. They also traded Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons to get Chauncey Billups and former Nuggets’ standout Antonio McDyess. However, McDyess was waived by the team as he opted not to play for the club.

The Denver Nuggets are one of the strongest teams in the West but they are continuously trying to build a core group that would lead them to the championship. They have already secured Anthony as the new face of their franchise. It is only a matter of time before they surround him with stronger talent.